US could save billions through national energy efficiency law

The US could save almost $170 Billion with a national law requiring utility companies to foster more efficient customer electricity and gas use, energy campaigners say.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) says in a study published this month (March) the introduction of a national Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) would not only save billions but create jobs and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Steven Nadel, ACEEE executive director, said: “Energy efficiency is one of the most effective ways to address our nation’s energy and climate challenges while creating jobs and saving Americans’ money.

“In these difficult economic times, investment in energy efficiency makes more sense than ever and should be a top priority for our nation’s leaders.”

An EERS would require natural gas and electric utilities to meet energy saving targets or face penalties in a bid to drive them to help consumers reduce energy use.

It is aimed at creating incentives for the introduction and installation of energy saving initiatives and devices and includes rebates on measures such as efficient air conditioners, water heaters and lighting systems.

Some 19 states already have EERSs but the ACEEE report, Laying the Foundation for Implementing a Federal Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, argues a national one would maximise energy efficiency.

It estimates one requiring utilities to reduce electricity demand by 15% and natural gas demand by 10% by 2020 would yield households and businesses utility bill savings of $168.6 billion – some 16% more than its previous $144 billion projection.

This would also create 220,000 jobs, save the equivalent power demand of 48 million households, remove the need to build 390 power plants and cut carbon emissions by 262 million tonnes – equal to taking 48 million cars of the road for a year.

The ACEEE is backing the new Save American Energy Act, which includes proposals for a federal energy-efficiency standard.

The report concludes: “Expanding investments in energy efficiency programmes at the national level will save consumers money, promote economic development and reduce emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.”

It adds: “The proposed federal Energy Efficiency Resource Standard stands out as one of the most effective means of encouraging a more productive economy.”

The organisation released its analysis as business leaders, industry groups, and environmentalist launched the Campaign for an Energy-Efficient America, a coalition calling on Congress to enact a federal energy efficiency target.

Mindy S Lubber, president of sustainable investor group Ceres, said: “Energy efficiency is the veritable low-hanging fruit for businesses that want to fight climate change and reduce their monthly energy bills.”

To read the ACEEE report in full go to its webpage

David Gibbs

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